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The General (1926) – The Trainload of Laughter

The man, the myth, the legend, Buster Keaton. His lifespan has created many classic slapstick comedy films of all time. Talking one of the most influential people, it’s not being able to say just one or two words. Given also, he tried to bring the right direction from the filmmaker along with his rival, Charlie Chaplin. Clearly, “The General” is one of the best of all. It sets during the Civil War. An engineer locomotive named Johnnie Gray (Buster Keaton) is trying to enlist in the Confederate army. However, the army refused because his job as an engineer was a gold fruit of job. A misunderstanding arises when his family and girlfriend assume that he is a coward. But, they refused to be allowed to discuss this matter. It’s better to be an engineer locomotive.

After a month passed, Johnnie lived in loneliness, sadness, and depression. When he was piloting the train he was going to take to the North, the train was stolen. Together with his girlfriend who was kidnapped, Johnnie tried to bring back the train and his girlfriend into a misadventure full of comedy. Of course, as well, slapstick. Johnny tried to save his girlfriend and the train. He wasn’t to become a superhero.

Silent films, a golden asset in Hollywood. I love silent films whether it’s anything because I thought, I have watched everything. “The General” seems different from normal films in general. There is no cut on the audio which fits the scene and the slapstick humor. Facial expression is the most useful element in silent films. In this film, it used in a simple way but so unique. Because who else if not Keaton himself. He can do and express anything from sad, idiot, and happy character. There is no blinking in his eye. He always holds it back. Keaton is more than acuteness mascot. He managed to get sympathy from us. The timing comedy, whether in any circumstance, is very impressive even he did it alone.

Jackie Chan is like a modern time of Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton. His films never use the stuntman at all, for some, and better take the consequences in order to create successful humor. Modern films rarely use that for the actor’s dedication but Jackie is the only one. Just like Keaton. Keaton doesn’t use any insurance and is better for direct action than thinking twice. He did all his own stunt. He managed to perform it at one point. The scene when he sits on a bike directly, the scene when he stands in front of the train while cleaning the railroad train, I could mention. Keaton did all the stunts so fantastic. Apart from this is also a comedy movie, I’m just worried and can’t imagine it. If he makes just one mistake, then everything would end.

The Sight & Sound poll voted this movie as one of the greatest films of all time. It’s in top 10 greatest movies. Buster Keaton was born in 1897 and grew up in a vaudeville family. Keaton has since felt physically sick and tried to improve it maximally until his death. He debuted in 1917 and began directing films later in 1920. His own rival, Charlie Chaplin, in some way that he could do better. But unfortunately, he wasn’t too popular even now like the Tramp.

Buster Keaton is a gold perfection of a story. He wrote silly stories with silly characters as well. It’s about the gag, a running gag, a slapstick comedy, a misunderstand jokes. In this age, we get special effects. Next, we watch a movie about another special effect. And again, we direct films with more and more special effects. In fact, most action movies use special effects everywhere. Keaton put life into one way or another. He had to jump from one house to another, the house fell right on it, he fell from the top floor but still could crawl. He swung in a waterfall to save the woman he loved, a mortar almost shot him. Keaton was made this in his character. No, there is no character. It’s Buster Keaton who did that.

Keaton once said that the Tramp is a remarkable, memorable, and lovable character. You can root him in a funny way but it reflects his character and describes it as a whole. But, Keaton reflects directly through his films and one of them is this. “The General” is more than slapstick. It takes you into an adventure full of conflict, action, romance, and of course, happy ending. If you’ve never watched Buster Keaton or even Chaplin, if you live under the rock, this film is the first time. What a timeless cult-classic.

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